Education Institutions in a Changing Climate: Action, Leadership and Activism


Dr Lauren Rickards

A primer on climate change risks to education institutions

Climate change is generating an escalating array of cascading impacts throughout society, from direct physical risks such as wildfires, to flow-on effects such as maintenance costs, to indirect policy effects such as changing occupational health and safety standards or social pressure to divest from fossil fuels. This talk will provide a brief framework of the main types of risk that climate change poses to education institutions specifically, an indication of their combined implications, and the areas where action is urgently required. 

Dr Lisa Kensler

Educational Leadership for Climate Justice: Emerging Solutions in Theory and Practice

Positional leaders of educational institutions (PK-20+) are high leverage sources for change; they make daily decisions that expand or shrink their immediate ecological impact and they are responsible for ensuring the next generation is engaged and prepared to contribute positively to climate change mitigation, adaptation, and justice. Although the vast majority of educational leaders have not yet embraced a sense of climate urgency relative to their daily practice, the few that have done so offer powerful models for designing, managing, and leading schools. This talk will highlight theory and exemplars in practice that demonstrate solutions are not only possible but already emerging. 

Professor Jeffrey S. Brooks

An Ecology of Crises: Rethinking Education amidst a Pandemic, Anti-racist activism and a Climate Change Emergency

Social and physical systems around the world are experiencing unprecedented turbulence. In this presentation, we argue that in order to initiate and sustain the kind of change needed to address these crises, they must be seen as parts of an ecological whole rather than as discrete problems. Further, by better understanding the complementary and competing roles of activism, education, leadership and policymaking as interrelated levers for change, we underscore the need to reconceptualise the ways we think about the intersections of the physical and social and the implications of this complexity in working toward substantive improvement.

Dr Blanche Verlie

Education in a changing climate

Climate change education has largely focused on education 'about' climate change and 'for' climate action, and there is limited attention to how education is unfolding 'in' the climate crisis. This presentation will explore some of the complex climate realities facing today's and tomorrow's young people which are un(der)acknowledged by the education system, and the ways in which climate change is already manifest 'in' schools, classrooms, and curriculum, such as through young people's experiences of climate anxiety and the activism that is fuelled by this. 

Presenter qualifications

Dr Lauren Rickards, Co-leader of the Climate Change and Resilience research program of the Centre for Urban Research, and Senior Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, at RMIT.

Dr Lisa Kensler, Emily R. and Gerald S. Leischuck Endowed Associate Professor in the College of Education, Auburn University, United States of America.

Professor Jeffrey S. Brooks, Associate Dean, Research & Innovation, Interim Associate Dean, Education, RMIT University, School of Education.

Dr Blanche Verlie, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Sydney Environment Institute, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, The University of Sydney.

Upcoming events


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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer